Back lane to Bornos

Beginning of the Rambla de Las Negras

Beginning of the Rambla de Las Negras

This morning was bright but breezy so, instead of heading for the beach, we decided to walk up the Barranco de Las Negras to see if we could reach the old mill of Bornos on the estepa above Las Negras via the old tracks.
Oleander by the water

Oleander by the water

The Barranco de Las Negras is the only one here that has fresh water trickling down it. Although most of the spring wild flowers have now disappeared oleander bushes are in bud and beginning to flower.
Grasses in the breeze

Grasses in the breeze

Grasses near the water were swaying in the breeze, looking quite dramatic against the deep blue sky.
Old fig tree

Old fig tree

The barranco widens into a little valley which was once farmed and the path crosses the stream by this gnarled, old fig tree.
Little, stone cottage

Little, stone cottage

Here is Manfred’s quaint little stone cottage with flowering, aloe vera plants in the foreground.
Manfred's cat

Manfred’s cat

His ginger tom was sunning himself on the wall.
Looking back down

Looking back down

We were told to turn left at the cottage and climb. Here is the view looking back down.
The wrong ravine

The wrong ravine

We reached this ravine. After we climbed to the ridge we realised we had come the wrong way and had to turn back. We think we should have kept more to the left but we were out for 4 hours and the scenery is spectacular so the walk was worth doing. Bornos will have to wait for another day.

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Friday night in Las Negras

Leprechauns in El Brindi NegroMargaret is traveling to Ireland this evening. She is not going in search of leprechauns. We found a couple of them in El Brindi last night, but to visit her nephew for a few days taking advantage of the new, inexpensive direct flights with Ryanair from Almeria to Dublin.

Dining area in El Brindi

Dining area in El Brindi

As Las Negras prepares for Easter many bars are having makeovers and new ones are preparing to open. Julio in El Brindi Negro has rearranged his decor. This in the entrance to the dining area.
Still life composition

Still life composition

Interesting still life compositions can be found in every corner.
Mannequin in chains

Mannequin in chains

Behind a glass cabinet this mannequin is in chains.
Itaka

Itaka

Also last night we called in a new deli, Itaka, which has just opened in the Centro Comercial. Wine, chees and jamon were offered to visitors and a duo played outside.

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Kew Gardens Annual Botany Field Trip

In the rambla below our house

In the rambla below our house

Twenty-five years ago we organised the first annual field trip to the Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata for the professors and students of the Department of Botany at Reading University and Kew Gardens. Although the group is now only from Kew, they have returned every year since, staying in Las Negras, to study the wonderful flora in our Parque Natural.
Further up the rambla

Further up the rambla

On their first day they always walk up the rambla to Las Hortichuelas and we joined them as they passed below our house. Here, there is a great variety of interesting plants, including some which are found only in this area.
Umbelifer

Umbelifer

The more common plants include this giant yellow umbelifer.It favours dry, stony habitats.
Palmito flowers

Palmito flowers

The botanists were pleased to find a palmito in flower. The yellow blossoms attract insects into the centre of the plant.
Studying the flora

Studying the flora

Mediterranean tarantula

Mediterranean tarantula

Along the rambla, I noticed the burrow of a Mediterranean tarantula. Typically, it was surrounded by a skillfully constructed fence of fragments of vegetation and small stones. By inserting a stem of dried grass, I was able to coax the inhabitant, which defends its territory vigorously, out of its hole.
Lavandula stoechas

Lavandula stoechas

Flowers of lavandula stoechas

Flowers of lavandula stoechas

The strongly-scented Lavandula stoechas grows in profusion along the rambla. It has deep purple flowers, but here is a pink variety – not a colour variation, but a species in its own right. Kew Gardens have developed a variety in a lovely, smoky mauve called Kew Red.
White-flowered cistus

White-flowered cistus

After a while, we left the rambla and scrambled up the mountainside where a glorious display of white-flowered cistus cascaded down the rocky slopes.
Gladioli

Gladioli

We found several wild gladioli flowering here and ….
Caralluma europaea

Caralluma europaea

…. most exciting of all, an excellent example of the very rare and elusive Caralluma europaea and, for the first time, I was able to see one actually in flower.
Caralluma europaea

Caralluma europaea

This curious plant mimics not only cactus, but also its long, narrow fruits are identical in every way to those of the cornical bush.
Floe de plata

Floe de plata

The Spanish call this low-growing, spreading plant ‘flor de plata’ (silver plant).
Wild Flowers of eastern Andalucia

Wild Flowers of eastern Andalucia

The botanist, Sarah Ball, in the centre of the first photo has just published this invaluable field guide to the flora of Eastern Andalucia. You can buy a copy from http://www.nhbs.com/wild_flowers_of_eastern_andalucia_tefno_197184.html

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Testing bike and route

Las Hortichuelas Altas

Las Hortichuelas Altas

I have been given a Swiss made Flyer electric bike to try out until next Tuesday. This is the make of bike that I have been offered for the group from Ireland who want to explore the Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata by bike after Easter.
The old road past Las Hortichuelas

The old road past Las Hortichuelas

This morning I tested it on one of my suggested routes. From Las Negras I headed towards Las Hortichuelas and took the old road past the village. This used to be the main road linking Las Negras and Las Hortichuelas to civilisation.
The track down to Cortijo del Montana

The track down to Cortijo del Montana

After a couple of km, before the old road reunites with the new one I took a track on the left down to Cortijo del Montana.
Cortijo del Montana

Cortijo del Montana

This track is quite stony and bumpy but, with care, it did not present many problems for the bike.
With the group I intend to stop at Cortijo del Montana so that they can look around this excellent example of traditional, Almerian rural architecture, but today I carried on taking a track to the left to Cortijo del Fraile.
Riders passing Cortijo del Montana

Riders passing Cortijo del Montana

I did not meet any other walkers or cyclists en route but I did encounter these three riders. A typical picture from Andalucia.
The track an olive tree in Cortijo del Fraile

The track an olive tree in Cortijo del Fraile

The track through Cortijo del Fraile is wide and smooth. There was some cloud about which created some dramatic contrast between light and shade.
Fields of Lettuce at Cortijo del Fraile

Fields of Lettuce at Cortijo del Fraile

There is some intensive agriculture in the fields of Cortijo del Fraile, particularly of salad plants, but because it is within the Parque Natural plastic greenhouses are not permitted.
Ruins of La Ermita del Fraile

Ruins of La Ermita del Fraile

At the ruins of La Ermita del Fraile I took the left track towards Rodalquilar, The Ermita is in a sorry state of ruin while the disputes as to who should be responsible for restoring it continue. It is regarded as of great cultural significance because of its association with the poet, Federico Garcia Lorca’s famous play “Blood wedding”.
The track to Rodalquilar with the Minas de Avalon ahead

The track to Rodalquilar with the Minas de Avalon ahead

With the group I intend to stop and explore the old gold mine. Minas de Avelon, where scenes from “Exodus” were filned last year.
El Pueblo Minero de San Diego

El Pueblo Minero de San Diego

Also we will stop to explore the old gold mining village, Pueblo Minero de San Diego. From here it is a short cycle to Rodalquilar where we will stop for some refreshment and then return along the road to Las Negras. On the way back, if the weather is good, we will probably take the track down to El Playazo to spend some time on the beach.

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Ute’s garden in March

Margaret and Ute looking over the garden

Margaret and Ute looking over the garden

This afternoon we called on our neighbour, Ute, to see how her lovely garden was looking now we are well into spring. Ute was a famous stage actress in her native Germany but has been living in Las Negras for some years. She has created an enchanting Mediterranean garden around her cottage.
Looking down the garden  towards the sea

Looking down the garden towards the sea

Here are a some overall views. Ute has a natural creative flair and her garden is full of colourful compositions which include her painted, rustic furniture, pots and sculptures.
Cat in a shady corner

Cat in a shady corner

Ute loves cats and in every corner you will see one or two of her many friendly felines. We took some more photos of corners of her garden and cottage which you can see on http://coloursofspain.wordpress.com.

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Electric bike test rides in Las Negras

Test rides in Las Negras

Test rides in Las Negras

I have been asked to locate some electric bikes to hire for a group from Ireland who are coming to the Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata for a weeks holiday at the end of April. It has proved difficult but I have found a company in Granada which imports and distributes the top of the range, Swiss built Flyer bikes, and also has a fleet of these bikes for rental. Felix, the owner, has suggested that he brings down the bikes for a day so that not only can I check them out but the public can take them out for a free test ride. Don’t take any notice of it being “Fool’s Day” or the “Irish” connection. It is serious and will happen so come along and have some fun. Details are on the poster above and you can also phone me on 667848529 or email digmerry@gmail.com for more information.

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Refuse disposal in San Pedro

Boat on the beach at San Pedro

Boat on the beach at San Pedro

Today we walked to Cala San Pedro and sat near the end of the beach close to this little boat.
Launching the refuse boat

Launching the refuse boat

While we were enjoying a picnic lunch two German men appeared and loaded the boat with sacks of refuse. They then, with great difficulty, attached an outboard motor. Not happy with this they replaced it with another outboard and launched the boat into the sea.
Trying to start the motor

Trying to start the motor

Their dog joined them on the boat but then they had a problem starting the motor.
Off to Las Negras

Off to Las Negras

Eventually they fired it up and set off for Las Negras, no doubt to deposit the rubbish in the municipal bins. We were pleased that someone is making an effort to keep beautiful San Pedro tidy.

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